John Lennon’s 70th birthday has been met, not surprisingly, with a spate of magazine articles, TV documentaries, and, most significantly, the obligatory re-releases. The big question, then: Is there any point to these ‘new’ albums, or is it simply yet another opportunity to cash in on the world’s greatest ever Rock band? I come to the conclusion that it is 10% the former, and 90% the latter. The 10% comes in the form of the ‘Stripped Down’ version of the album Double Fantasy, necessary because the revolting production on the original album blighted some excellent Lennon compositions. In their Stripped-Down format, songs like (Just Like) Starting Over, Woman, Watching The Wheels, and I’m Losing You are given new life, and it is an absolute joy to hear Lennon’s voice minus the excessive reverb he insisted on using throughout his solo career.
Unfortunately, any re-release of Double Fantasy, Stripped Down or otherwise, can’t alter the fact that Yoko Ono writes, and ‘sings’ half of its fourteen tracks. Yes, the concept is good (Lennon starts a conversation with one song, Yoko replies with the next, and so forth), but, and let’s get this straight once and for all: Yoko Ono cannot sing; for toffees nor any other confectionery item. Listening to her wail and screech through her tracks is torturous at best, and although some of her lyrics and melodies are decent enough, it’s impossible to enjoy any of her songs. Double Fantasy is the musical equivalent of spending one night in the Savoy Hotel, dining on Fillet steak, then re-locating to a Crack Den the next evening, to dine on Cockroach and Vagabond’s sock, before returning to the Savoy etc. etc.
For die-hard Lennon fans like me, this is probably worth the money, just to hear his voice sans-effects, but for everyone else: save your cash.